Monday, March 07, 2005

Youngstown C-130 Aircrew Flies U.S. Senators From Iraq

Youngstown C-130 Aircrew Flies U.S. Senators From Iraq
Mar 6, 2005 2:00 p.m.
The Business Journal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Military officials announced Sunday that a C-130 aircrew stationed with the 910th Airlift Wing at the Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township flew five U.S. senators – including John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (R-N.Y.) -- out of Baghdad, Iraq, at the conclusion of their fact-finding mission last month.

Joining McCain and Clinton on the fact-finding mission were Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis. The senators traveled to Baghdad to meet with interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh and Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who is leading the push to train Iraqi security forces.

The C-130 aircraft commander was Maj. John Boccierri, who represents the 61st district in Ohio’s General Assembly. “It was a real treat to have both Senator McCain and Senator Clinton on our flight deck during the take-off out of Baghdad,” Boccieri said. “It was a special flight.”

Co-pilot Capt. Rodger Sharp, a teacher at West Branch High School in Mahoning County, said it was “an honor to meet a real American hero like Senator McCain. He gave so much to our country and when he thanked me for serving, I said, ‘Oh, no sir. We need to thank you!’ ”

Reservist Master Sgt. Chris Marino was the loadmaster on the flight and in civilian life works for Lencyk Masonry in Howland. “In 20 years of service, I’ve never had this many important people on my airplane,” Marino said. “They were gracious and respectful of the job we’re doing here. They said we’re making a difference in Iraq.”

Reserve Tech. Sgt. Charles Walker, the C-130 flight engineer, is also fireman for the city of Akron. “It was great to show the senators what we do every day here in Iraq. They experienced our mission firsthand and they will take this experience with them to Washington.”

The C-130 aircrew is deployed with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at an air base in Southwest Asia, its precise location not identified due to "host-nation sensitivities," the Air Force says.

Major Boccierri and his 910th Airlift Wing crew are completing their third rotation to Southwest Asia.

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